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what to pack diaper bag

What To Pack In Your Diaper Bag?


What To Pack in A Diaper Bag

We talked about the importance of picking the right diaper bag. The next essential step after getting your cute diaper bag is how to make good use of it. To properly utilize all that space and pockets, you need to become familiar with the art of packing your diaper bag. If you thought picking a diaper bag is hard, wait till you actually start packing it!

This article will provide the tips and tricks to aid you in packing your diaper bag to be armed and prepared with all the essential items you’ll need on the go. The goal is to answer one question only and to answer it well: what to put in the diaper bag?

Before we get into the actual list, it's important to note a common mistake some parents make when it comes to packing their diaper bag – stacking the bag with everything possible. Granted some folks like to be prepared for everything and err on the side of caution, leading to overpacking. However, it's of no use if you haul around the equivalent of a fully packed army supplies bag if you can barely lift the thing off the ground. This becomes a hindrance if it’s difficult to easily reach your essentials when you need them. 

I’m sure you don't want to lose track of what you have in your bag. You don't want to feel as if you're trying to dig out items from a giant black hole every time you need something. Think of your bag in terms of compartments - if you can perform an accurate mental inventory of the contents of your bag before you leave home, then you're not overloaded with unnecessary items and you can make the best use of what you’ve packed.

With that said let's delve right into the question!

What to put in your diaper bag?

We're going to split the items you need to put in the diaper bag into three lists, arranged in order of importance. Ultimately, what you pack in the diaper bag will also depend on the type of outing, the age of your child, and the size of your bag so you may find yourself packing items from either of the lists or adding things that may not have been covered. 

The items on the first list are the bare necessities that can easily fit into any standard diaper bag. Once they’re in, it's up to you to decide whether there's enough space for more items.

Remember: it's good to keep things organized and light as possible so it's easier for you to carry the diaper bag and easily access what you need.

  1. "Bare necessities" list

◦ Diapers. I mean, obviously. The real question is: how many diapers? The rule of the thumb is to pick one diaper for every two hours you plan to be outside but it's best to grab a few more just in case. You never know. Of course, if you change your baby's diaper once per hour, you have to pick more but usually one for two hours is okay. If your child is a toddler and is being potty trained, then the number of diapers will be dependent on how well they’re responding to the training and will be considerably less than the amount of diaper required for a baby. 

◦ Wipes. Stick with one full package - this is especially convenient if you're packing a diaper bag that has a compartment designed for wipes. Baby wipes are extremely important and you always need more than you anticipate so packing as many of those as possible is a priority. Pro-tip: Put the wipes in one of those reusable plastic containers for wipes, it makes it so much easier to grab a wipe with one hand rather than having to struggle with the stickers on the resealable packs.

◦ Diaper changing pad. You usually have one that comes with your diaper bag but if you prefer to use a different one, there are many foldable and portable options that come in handy.

◦ Diaper disposal bags. This is one of the items that are usually forgotten by new parents when packing a diaper bag. The dirty diapers need to go somewhere so it’s ideal to have these “babies” on hand to keep things odor-free. These disposal bags are also useful for storing soiled clothing items when you’re out and about - you don't want to throw out every outfit your child ruins or you'll have to keep buying clothes more often than you’d like.

◦ Speaking of clothes: An extra outfit. Spit, spills, blowouts...You never know when your baby is going to need a change of clothes. Pack an extra weather-appropriate outfit. I typically leave extra outfits in my bag so that I know I’m covered for any emergency.  

Extra shirt for you. Especially if your baby tends to get you in a mess. 

Bottle - that's in case you're not breastfeeding. It's best to keep the milk in an insulated pocket in order to maintain its temperature. Bring an extra bottle for clean water. If you're nursing, pack some nursing pads to avoid leaking breasts...because stuff happens. 

Baby blanket. This is like your utility tool, it can be used for many things - swaddling, cleaning up messes, burping, etc. You need to make sure your baby has enough shade on bright days and enough warmth on cool ones. If your child has a favorite blanket, pack that one.

Bib. This is a good idea if your kid drools or spits up a lot and it saves a lot of cleaning up. It also doesn't take up a lot of space at all. You may replace this with a burp cloth depending on preference.

◦ Last but not least: Don't forget your personal belongings from all that thinking about what baby needs. Wallet, keys, phone, etc. - it's best to have a designated pocket where you put all of these items so you don’t have to constantly fish around for your stuff. 

  1. "Often comes in handy" list

Diaper rash cream. Diaper rashes usually appear when you're potty-training your baby. Typically, when you take a pause from wearing diapers for your baby and they go back to wearing diapers, they may develop a rash. It’s good to have a diaper cream handy for such situations. 

◦ Hand sanitizer. This is especially handy when you’re on the go and have no access to wash your hands. Wipes may do the trick but it's best to clean your hands with a sanitizer when after you’ve changed a diaper or cleaned your baby.

Baby sunscreen. Babies have sensitive skin, so if your child isn't covered in layers and is exposed to direct sunlight, it's best to bring along a tube of sunscreen. 

◦ Extra hat. On the same note, it’s good to make sure the back of your baby’s neck is covered. In case something happens to the hat baby is wearing, a spare one will come in handy.  

First aid kit. The baby may develop a fever or get a tummy ache so it's advisable to have a basic first aid kit on hand for quick relief. You probably won't get to use the kit much but it's best to have band-aids, gauze, gas drops and basic medicines for the baby.

  1. "May come in handy" list

◦ Vaseline. Just in case baby's skin gets too dry - this happens if the weather is too cold or hot. Scratches and bruises are common if you're on a trip, so Vaseline may help with that too.

◦ Pacifier. If your baby is still attached to theirs, then this is definitely an item you do not want to forget. Same goes for the blanket. Always good to have these handy if baby is still in that phase, makes a whole world of difference in calming a crying baby. 

Baby snacks. If your child eats purees or finger foods, you may want to add these to the list of what to pack in a diaper bag. 

Baby toys. Add a couple of your child’s favorite toys e.g. rattles, teething rings, stuffed bear etc. 

Tissues. Might need some of those in addition to the wipes.

◦ Baby powder. You might need this to keep your child's bottom dry especially after a diaper change or on very hot days.

◦ Some plastic bags. Just in case. They don't take much space and it's always good to have some around because they're easy to use and help things stay organized. 

Water and snacks for you. Let's not forget that you're just as human as your baby so you need to take care of yourself too. Stay strong and hydrated! Your child needs you.

This ends the list of things you should pack in your diaper bag. You're ready!

After answering the question - "What to pack in the diaper bag?", it's time to quickly go over another question, which is just as important. The first time you pack a bag for your baby is one of the most important ones, so let's go over what you’ll need.

What to pack in the diaper bag for the hospital?

what to pack in your diaper bag

Yes, that's correct: the first time you pack a bag for your baby is usually before your baby is even born. You need two bags for your stay at the hospital, one for you and one for the little one, and it's best to be as prepared as possible to welcome your new guest.

It's recommended to use your diaper bag for the hospital because it's usually the perfect size and it's a great way to start getting used to your bag. The initial advice given in the "what to pack in your diaper bag" section of this article is valid here as well: you don't want to pack too many things. It's important to be prepared for situations that may occur, but it's also good not to get lost in the weeds. Ask the hospital what they provide - most of them provide diapers, wipes and some basic baby items. Once you’re equipped with the knowledge of what is provided by the hospital then you can keep this in mind as you pack your bag.

Let's go over two lists of what you need to pack for yourself and baby for the Big Day.

What to pack in the diaper bag for baby?

Going Home Outfit. It's important to keep in mind you don't know how big the baby is going to be, so you have to pick at least two sizes. Grab one that is newborn size and one that is for 0-3 months old baby. Socks and a hat are important if the weather demands it.

Pajamas. Some hospitals may provide these but you may want to dress your little one in clothing you brought.  

Burp cloths. Your baby may be a “spitter-upper”, so it's good to have those around.

Blanket. It's important to keep baby comfortable and warm and blankets work wonders.

Bottles, in case you're not nursing. Pack at least two bottles and formula from your preferred brand. The hospital is likely to have samples for you but if you prefer being prepared, bring your own along.

Baby oil. It's great for keeping baby's bottom fresh after cleaning meconium. 

Diapers and wipes are essential but most hospitals provide some so you don't have to bring along a whole bunch. 

What to pack in the bag for mom?

Your birth plan - make a few copies, you need one for your chart and some for your nurses. Pro-tip: Include your pediatrician's contact information because the doctors will ask you for this.

◦ A robe. The hospital usually provides a robe but it's great to have one that makes you feel comfortable and that you're used to.

Toiletries. You’ll need a hairbrush, shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, face cream, hair ties, face wipes, deodorant etc... If you wear contacts, bring an extra pair and a bottle of solution for them.

Comfy clothes. In case you're nursing, this includes a nursing bra. Tank top plus loose pants is usually a comfortable outfit. Grab a few pairs of warm socks - slipper socks are a great option. Slip-on shoes can come in handy.

Hot water bottle.

Underwear. Disposable underwear may be the most convenient for you in this situation. 

Nipple cream in case you're breastfeeding. You need that extra care. Pick one that doesn't have a strong smell.

Long cell phone charging cord. Hospital beds are usually far away from the electrical outlet and it's nice to be able to contact someone at any given time. 

Bath towel/s. The hospital provides those but it's good to bring the comfort of your own -grab an especially fluffy and warm towel. Bringing your favorite pillow may provide additional comfort.

So here you have it! The full list of what to pack in your diaper bag. As mentioned in the earlier sections, what you ultimately decide to pack may depend on the age of your child, size of your bag and type of outing. The items listed on each of the lists discussed are ideas that will get you going quickly and as you have various experiences you will find yourself adding to or taking away from the lists.